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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

North American box office: ‘Couples Retreat’ to paradise

But zombies and mad science and sentient toys hold strong:

1. Couples Retreat: $34.3 million (NEW)
2. Zombieland: $14.8 million (2nd week; drops 40%)
3. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: $11.5 million (4th week; drops 27%)
4. Paranormal Activity: $7.9 million (3rd week in release; 1st week in top 5)
5. Toy Story/Toy Story 2 3D: $7.8 million (2nd week; drops 38%)

actual numbers, not estimates
My feelings are mixed looking at this weekend’s box office results. I hate that so many people plunked down so much money for the awful Couples Retreat — and I hate even more the suggestion, as the Los Angeles Times blog Company Town raised, that the ritzy tropical press junket Universal threw for selected press was responsible for generating so much media coverage that it made its success inevitable. (To be clear: I hate the suggestion because I suspect it might be true.)

On the other hand, I love that the way-fun Zombieland and the lovely Meatballs continue to do so well. Zombieland will sail past $50 million this week (more than twice its production budget, so it’ll be considered a huge success) and Meatballs will pass $100 million (which is what it cost to make), and it’s nice to see movies that deserve it actually making a ton of dough.

And though I haven’t see the film yet so I can’t comment on its quality, it’s nice to see an ultra-low-budget flick doing as well as Paranormal Activity is: it proves that small movies can do well. Activity earned almost $8 million dollars playing on only 160 screens, for a whopping per-screen average of $49,379, which is — according to Company Town again — “the highest ever for a movie playing at more than 100 locations.” Another indicator of spectacular word of mouth: the Sunday estimates for the film were off by 50 percent: that is, they were 50 percent too low. (“While studio estimates are sometimes off by a few percentage points, it’s rare that they under- or overestimate by more than 10%,” says Company Town.)

Close on Activity’s heels, on a per-screen basis if not a record-breaking basis, An Education took in $39,754 on each of its four screens.

On the other other hand, I’m so sorry to see the smart, subversive The Invention of Lying and the kickass-fun Whip It sinking so fast. Maybe they’ll catch a break on DVD.

Overall business was up seven percent over the same weekend last year, which isn’t much, but better than the recent trend, which has been off last year.

[numbers via Box Office Mojo]



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